There is a lot of talk in Christianity about predestination. Some people embrace the idea. Some discard it. However, (no big surprise for my regular readers) I believe there is a middle path between predestination and free will.
Just a warning. This is a fairly philosophical post.
Predestination is an effort to reconcile God’s omniscience and human free will. Traditional Calvinist predestination posits all events are Willed by God. Therefore, God has Willed some people will make it to heaven while others will go to hell regardless of their actions or perceived choices. Those choices were also Willed.
Predestination is contrasted to the idea of Determinism. Determinism is where God knows all outcomes of events, but not exactly which course a person will choose (or He chooses not to “see” which path the person will choose). Determinism works more nicely with Free Will than predestination.
Free Will is the idea that we have ultimate control over our lives. We determine if we go to heaven or hell by our actions or lack thereof.
The problem with Predestination is how people are fated to be a certain caste or situation. You are born in a ghetto and destined to die in a gang war. God Willed it so tough luck.
Free Will also has problems. You are born in a ghetto, and if you die in a gang war, well, it’s your own fault regardless of the situation.
There is a Middle Way between these Free Will and Predestination. They are both partially right. Predestination is a function of Free Will.
Let’s take the ghetto example. Your parents decided to move into a city for work; however, the factory goes belly up. The neighborhood falls into poverty. Poverty breeds gangs and drug problems. You are born into that situation. By being born into that situation you are fated to be pulled into those gang and drug problems because it is the culture of the environment. In this way the decision of parents create a certain fate for their children. As does the continued decision to stay in the poisoned environment.
This is how Free Will causes Predestination. We choose to do something that increases our chances of an outcome occurring. Often the chance of a set outcome becomes so probable that it becomes “fate.”However, because Free Will exists, we can change the destiny. A single solid choice and complete derail a person’s “fate.”
That is all from the human perspective. As for God’s perspective, we really can’t know. However, we could still believe all the elements that contribute to a person’s destiny are Willed by God. But such a God is far from the loving idea of God Jesus exemplifies. Nor does it work with how the universe was designed.
The universe is designed as a cause and effect system. God doesn’t have to directly get involved. Effects are predestined outcomes of causes; even when they are not readily visible or seemingly random. Remember, effects are often the outcomes of other people’s decisions.
For God to be omniscient He must know all possible outcomes for all possible actions. When He knows this, it is actually irrelevant what path we choose. He doesn’t directly Will a particular event. However, He still Willed the event when He created the law cause and effect. It is a subtle but significant difference. It allows Free Will to exist without violating God’s omniscience. He did Will all events into existence, but we are still in control of which path to take. He knows of all outcomes, so it is irrelevant what we choose, yet we still can choose. We can choose Heaven or Hell; God knows all possible paths to each. In this way we are currently predestined for one or the other. We are on a certain path. However, our actions can shift that predestination.Often we are already in hell or heaven because of the built in mechanism of cause and effect.
God hopes all will come to be saved. (1 Timothy 2: 1-2) It is illogical to think that a God of love would create anyone just so they can fail to be His child.